Just like his teammate with Porsche, André Lotterer with the now defunct team Caterham in 2014, Brendon Hartley - one of the winners at the 24 Hours of Le Mans this year - will participate in a Formula 1 Grand Prix, with Toro Rosso this coming weekend at the Circuit of the Americas at which he won in the World Endurance Championship (WEC) last month.
Unlike André Lotterer, whose F1 experience was somewhat meager, Brendon Hartley has served as a reserve and test driver for Red Bull and Toro Rosso. His last outing at the wheel of an F1 dates back to a testing session with Mercedes in 2012, two years after being unceremoniously ejected from the famous energy drink's junior program for lack of results in ladder series.
But like André Lotterer in his day (the German driver grew up in Belgium not far from the Spa-Francorchamps circuit at which he debuted in F1), the 2015 World Endurance Champion, along with Timo Bernhard and Mark Webber (former Red Bull member), will return to the track he knows so well and compete as a reigning 24 Hours of Le Mans winner.
Though the French-speaking German's foray into F1 was short-lived after he declined an offer to take the start at the Italian Grand Prix at Monza, how will the New Zealander's experience unfold now that Porsche has withdrawn from the LMP1 class as of the end of the season? Rumor has it he will head to the IndyCar Series, the American single-seaters championship in which competes 2016 champion Simon Pagenaud and Sébastien Bourdais, winner in the LMGTE Pro class with Ford at the 24 Hours of Le Mans in 2016, both former official Peugeot drivers in Endurance, but so far nothing has been confirmed.
The talented 27-year-old driver - who will become the ninth New Zealander to participate in an F1 Grand Prix, the first since Mike Thackwell back in 1984 - holds, as do his teammates Timo Bernhard and Earl Bamber, a 51 point lead in the Drivers standings, and could be crowned for the second time in the World Endurance Championship (WEC) if he wins the 6 Hours of Fuji this weekend, two races from the end of the season.
PHOTO: Brendon Hartley takes a selfie at the Drivers' Parade the day before the 2017 24 Hours of Le Mans.